Monday, August 2, 2004

Read to your baby, improve society

Your voice: Janet Lockwood

The guest column "Parents hold the key to literacy" by Xavier University English professor Trudell Thomas (Forum, July 25) should have been on Page 1. Getting parents to read to their children could have more impact on our society than any of the articles chosen for the front page. This information is the key to more children succeeding in school and in their adult lives.

Good reading skills are not only important for English class, but for math and science classes as well. Whenever articles list high school test results in math and science, it is usually students from Europe and Asia who are at the top of the lists - and unfortunately, American students are far down on the list.

With good reading skills, schools could teach new and challenging information to all students, rather than trying to help failing students catch up through remedial classes. Bad behavior would decrease because students would have a great sense of accomplishment from succeeding. Graduation rates would increase. Families would want their children to attend public schools and move into the area, instead of leaving for suburban schools.

Parents want to do a good job raising their children, and this is one way to help them accomplish that important and challenging job.

Universities should create a "Read to your baby" program, including a brochure that doctors and clinics would distribute to expectant mothers. Board books would be included in the package sent home from the hospital with new moms, along with specific tips on reading to their baby and children. Local bookstores could provide deep discounts for the purchase of the initial books and coupons for the families for future purchases. The library should refocus and push literacy and not just be a place to get free DVDs.

Successful local companies that need highly educated employees could spearhead this program. All companies would benefit from a larger pool of educated employees. And most important, society would have educated, successful members who can be informed voters and understand the fine print in offers too good to be true.

There are already programs that distribute books to elementary children to encourage them to read. A "Read to your baby" program would set the foundation for being a successful reader, student and citizen.

Wouldn't it be great if the adult literacy organizations didn't have any clients?

Janet Lockwood of Peach Grove enjoys various educational activities with her grandchildren.

Want your voice here? Send your column or proposed topic, 400 words or fewer, along with a photo of yourself, to assistant editorial editor Ray Cooklis at E-mail rcooklis@enquirer.com; (513) 768-8525.

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